How do I give Back in chicago?

volunteering in chicago

Wow! I love to help out my community, and learn how I can help make it prettier, help people, and help events or leaders. I was a Girl Scout and for my Gold Award, that’s how I started planning my community service project – looking at my community’s needs.

Giving back to your Chicago neighborhood can be a rewarding experience that not only benefits others, but also helps you develop a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment. Here are some ways you can give back to your community:

Volunteer:

Many organizations, such as schools, hospitals, and non-profits, rely on volunteers to carry out their missions. Find a cause that you are passionate about and offer your time and skills to make a difference.

When I lived in West Town, I looked up all of the charities and organizations in that neighborhood and found 826 Chi, a non-profit creative writing, tutoring, and publishing center dedicated to amplifying the voices of Chicago youth. I encourage you to go for a walk and check out the businesses and community centers in your neighborhood. Volunteering can be a quick walk from your home.

Another place to look is your local Alderman’s office or Chamber of Commerce.

Donate:

If you are unable to volunteer your time, consider making a financial donation to a non-profit organization or charity that aligns with your values. Funds are so important to non-profits. My first internship was at the Ronald McDonald House (in Grand Rapids, MI), but the Ronald McDonald House of Chicago & Northwest Indiana is also great. I had so much fun planning the annual gala and seeing all the people come out and support our cause. Funds really help non-profits deliver their mission and help others. Here’s a good place to start.

Support local businesses:

Shopping at locally owned businesses and buying products made in your community can help stimulate the local economy and support local jobs. And there’s even small businesses that give back, check out this list. It hits different when your matcha is changing the world.

Organize a community service project:

Gather a group of friends, family, or co-workers and organize a community service project, such as a neighborhood clean-up or a food drive. One of my greatest memories is around the holiday’s my friend placed donation bins around the city at small businesses and we collected them and delivered them to organizations throughout the city. I felt like we were Santa Claus.

Mentor:

Share your skills and knowledge with others by mentoring someone in your community who could benefit from your expertise.

Attend community events:

Participating in community events, such as festivals and fundraisers, not only supports local organizations, but also helps build a sense of community and belonging. When I first moved to Chicago, my friend was writing for a community blog and they needed writers and an events director. I had so much fun organizing local meetups with new businesses. Chicago.gov is a great place to start for bigger events in Chicago. If you’re looking for specific causes of niches, 1871 is a great innovation hub for entrepreneurs, co-working spaces usually have guest lecturers and community events, and there’s also a lot of Chicago female entrepreneur initiatives and organizations that support women and girls like Chicago Foundation for Women, and Devi Labs, a non-profit which strives to educate women and gnc (gender non-conforming) folks about computer science, in a safe supportive environment resulting in their personal growth and empowerment

Run a marathon:

A great way to give back is by running a marathon. You can run the Chicago Marathon without qualifying if you raise money for charity. I signed-up at church because I wanted to give back and be committed to a cause. Waking up early and going on practice runs with people who were all raising money for a good cause was empowering (Team World Vision). You can read about my journey running my first Chicago Marathon here.

Remember, giving back to your community doesn’t have to be a big or complicated effort (though finding an opportunity can feel stressful). Even small acts of kindness can make a meaningful impact. Find a way to get involved that aligns with your passions and interests and commit to making a difference in your Chicago neighborhood.

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Amanda Whitfield
Amanda Whitfield

Amanda Whitfield is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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